In order to breakdown the barriers that are holding you back, you need systems and strategy. I’m here to show you that system through small to large group speaking, or 1:1.
Damien Minna inspires audiences with the power of optimism, with his moving keynote speeches on how to live a life of purpose through powerful belief strategies. Whether your event attendees are corporate employees, clients, youth, or nonprofits, his speech will demonstrate how focusing on the good can transform your personal mindset or business, and take you anywhere. All presentations are catered to your specific needs.
COACH & MENTOR
“After many years of struggling to find happiness, and purpose following a spinal cord injury– I did it! I finally figured it out and I want to share it with as many people as possible”. Damien has crafted a simple and effective method for coping with life’s stresses, finding your purpose , and smashing it! With these one on one or group appointments you will be introduced to his simple method that you can use everyday to achieve your most desired goals – to create positivity, and growth. With Damien’s extensive background in sports, he is the perfect addition to your group to motivate your team.
This book will take you on the journey of a man who went from a division one athlete to a devastating circumstance. An incredible story of how he overcame severe adversity and found true happiness in a way he never could have imagined. For anyone who is exploring meaning, and purpose in life . For those of you searching for happiness, or just a good story.
GET COACHED UP! GET THE HELP YOU NEED!
Recent release “All Different Directions” from Page Publishing author Damien Minna is a profoundly inspiring autobiography of an elite athlete and college football player who suffered near-total paralysis after an accident. This deeply personal memoir of his long road to recovery, his despair ultimately giving way to his indomitable spirit and positivity, and the extraordinary people who helped him on his journey, is a poignant and humbling illustration of courage and grace in the most difficult of circumstances.
Published by New York City-based Page Publishing, Damien Minna’s book is a candid and deeply inspiring story of one man’s remarkable spirit in the face of the most daunting challenges. Readers who wish to experience this engrossing work can purchase “All Different Directions” at bookstores everywhere, or online at the Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play, or Barnes and Noble.
A STORY ABOUT HOPE IN LIFE!
My name is Ulysses Martin and I am currently recovering from a C3 & C5 spinal cord injury. I get coached up by Damien Minna every week, he is my mentor and has become a close and dear friend. Damien has had a profound impact on me. When you have a spinal cord injury that completely changes your life – in the blink of an eye, there’s very few people who can identify with your pain and situation. To be mentored by someone that has literally broken their neck and has lived to talk about, it is special to me. If you or a relative has a spinal cord injury and need someone to help you navigate your new journey, I highly recommend Damien. He is very knowledgeable and has tremendous tact. He is very grounded, helpful and caring, but he also knows when to be stern and when to demand more from you. It’s all about your goals – you have to have focus and goals. I love this guy!
Inspire you to Persevere!
Damien’s story will move you to act, and inspire you to persevere. He spoke for a group of 50 people in my annual health challenge and we still talk about him years later.
Congratulations! You landed an interview! Yet even for the most confident candidates, interviewing can be a nerve-racking experience. And if you have a disability, the unfortunate reality is that you may have to work even harder to prove you can do the job just as well (if not better) than non-disabled candidates. Disabled people have to apply for 60 percent more jobs than non-disabled people to secure a role. And only 50 percent of applications result in interviews, compared to 69 percent for applicants without disabilities, according to research from disability charity Scope in partnership with Virgin Media.
What’s more, people with disabilities in the UK have a 7.3 percent unemployment rate, compared to 3.4 percent for non-disabled people. This large employment gap is what inspired Liz Johnson, former Paralympic gold medalist for Team GB, to co-found The Ability People (TAP), the UK’s first employment agency staffed entirely by people with impairments.
“Everyday life for a disabled person is about problem-solving because we have to improvise, persevere, be extremely resilient and communicate clearly with other people to get things done and make things happen,” Johnson says. “A lot of these skills are required for the working environment and disabled people have mastered them from early on. These are traits that make not only for good recruiters, but also for great employees.”
Johnson was born with cerebral palsy, but that didn’t stop her from winning her first national swimming championship at 10 years old, followed by gold medals at the Paralympics, World Championships and European Championships, before retiring in the run-up to the 2016 Paralympics.
Johnson, who has a degree in business management and is a frequent speaker and consultant on recruitment, realised that ‘athletes and recruiters share a lot of the same mindset’. So she established TAP as a way to help disabled people get into and stay in the workplace. The agency is a 'for-profit' business, not a charity, that works with some of the UK's biggest employer brands.
At TAP, which places both disabled and non-disabled candidates, the focus is on what a person ‘can do', not their perceived limitations. Johnson says this allows the agency to place outstanding individuals in their perfect jobs and establish an ‘ethical supply chain of talent’ to UK employers. We sat down with Johnson to learn how disabled people can overcome bias during interviews. Here are her top 5 tips for proving you’re the best candidate for the job:
Preparation is crucial to all job seekers, from mapping out your journey to the interview to making sure you have the right outfit and fresh copies of your CV in tow. This is particularly true for disabled candidates. Depending on your impairment, you may need special assistance or equipment to access the building or conduct the interview to the best of your ability. Be sure to research how you will get to the interview location and the building’s accessibility. If you require anything specific, such as a lift, disabled parking spot or hearing loop in the interview room, don’t be afraid to request it beforehand. If you are working with a recruiter, you can ask them to make arrangements with the interviewer on your behalf.
Research the Company
As well as practical preparations for the interview, do your homework on the company you’re hoping to work for. You will likely be asked about what you know about the organisation. With some research and preparation, you’ll be able to give a short, intelligent synopsis. This will also help you come up with a couple of questions about the organisation that you may want to ask. Disabled people may be particularly interested in company culture around diversity and inclusion, life/work balance , working from home and flex hour policies.
Research shows that the more informed you are about the employer, the more likely you are to be offered the job. In fact, informed candidates — those who do their homework about the company before interviewing — are twice as likely to be hired. You can also get one step ahead by researching potential interview questions and preparing your answers in advance.
Remember that your credentials are what got you through the door and that you deserve to be in the interview room as much as anyone, says Johnson. Your disability is not your identity, but you can turn it into one of your biggest strengths by highlighting the positive traits associated with being disabled, such as resilience, perseverance, exceptional problem-solving and communication abilities.
Discussing Your Disability
The choice is yours when it comes to disclosing your disability during an interview, says Johnson. Research found that 77 percent of disabled graduates and student applicants are afraid of disclosing their disability to potential employers for fear of discrimination. Whatever you choose, remember to focus on what makes you the best candidate and all the things you can do during your interview. Legally you are not required to answer anything about your disability that makes you feel uncomfortable, but sharing appropriate details may help an employer make adjustments and learn what you would require to truly succeed at their organisation.
Embrace Transparency and Trust
For a disabled person to truly thrive in their workplace, it’s critical that they aren’t afraid to communicate openly with their employer about what they need to be their best and most productive, whether that’s the ability to work from home, special software, improved building access or manager training on supporting disabled colleagues.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. It will benefit both you and your employer because organisations that truly support their disabled employees often gain their most productive and loyal employees,” Johnson notes. “Change can be difficult for a lot of people, but when you’re disabled, it’s even harder. So if a disabled person has a good relationship with their employer, they trust and respect it and stick around for the long haul.”
Things that make me feel slightly better about the world: in my current stack of 75 applications for a prestigious honors program at my university, four of the 150 essays have been about the use of slurs like “the R word” to describe people with disabilities. That strikes me a somewhat encouraging ratio given the sheer breadth of topics available for these kids to write about.
Things that make my forehead scrunch: more than a quarter of these essays have been about how a person with a disability taught the student A Very Important Lesson about perseverance, overcoming adversity, or being grateful for what one has.
I understand why essays about disability come up a lot, particularly among this cohort. Just about every single one of us knows a person with some form of disability, and these kids spend many of their volunteer hours providing care at summer camps and group homes. I think it’s tremendously commendable that they commit their time in this manner, but I want to caution students away from writing this particular kind of essay or, at the very least, only writing this sort of essay with some of the following problems in mind. Teachers: if you’re in a position to give advice about this sort of thing, feel free to pass it along.
1) Almost all of these essays sound exactly alike. The formula goes something like this:
First paragraph: “I’ll never forget the first time I saw [name], who suffered from [disability]. Initially, I thought [stereotypical and somewhat offensive preconceptions] about that disability, but [name] changed my perspective through her [remarkable qualities like innocence, perseverance, or courage].”
Second and Third paragraphs: a chronicle of what you did for this person while working at [summer camp or group home for persons with disabilities]. This section is ultimately about how wonderful and generous you are for providing this sort of care. There is often mention of having to help this person in the bathroom or shower and how that uncomfortable intimacy helped you grow as a person.
Fourth paragraph: summary of how your life changed because of this experience (usually a single week or a semester of bi-weekly volunteering). Usually contains truisms about counting your blessings and emulating that person’s cheerful attitude.
Essays that don’t clearly differentiate you from the pack won’t get you far with a selective college or honors program, so you want to avoid the formula essay as much as humanly possible. I have seen spectacular riffs on the sort of essay outlined above, such as an essay on how a sibling’s disability made the student aware of the myriad accessibility issues in his school and church, but unless you can provide unique insights that stem from long-term experiences with disability, I would steer away from this topic.
2) The essay is ultimately about how wonderful the applicant is. Yeah, that’s sort of what you’re supposed to do in a college essay, but it’s icky to appropriate another person’s life in this way, and some application readers are going to be sensitive to that fact (your reader may, in fact, have or be closely related to a person who has a the same diagnosis). Furthermore, you typically have to flatten that person’s personality traits in order to fit the narrative of what a kind, generous person you are and how you learned this important lesson, and that ultimately makes for writing that sounds (and is) disingenuous and uninteresting.
3) Your essays are an opportunity to talk about something that either can’t fit into a resume line. Your time volunteering at that camp one summer–most of your short-term volunteer activities, in fact–will come through on a resume just fine. In fact, it’s sort of expected from the types of students who apply to selective colleges and programs. In other words, write about something that is a bit closer to your own personal experience.
Nothing points to the need for a better public discourse on disability than the ubiquity of this particular sort of college essay. A person with a disability is always presented as an opportunity for an able-bodied person to learn a lesson about how great they have it, about how to accept adverse circumstances cheerfully and courageously. Furthermore, it strikes me as a problem that such individuals are subjected to inexpert care from a person they will never see again in order for privileged college juniors to have something to write about. Ditto for impoverished children in the developing world, people who frequent soup kitchens, people with terminal illnesses, the impoverished child you tutored for a semester, etc.
I don’t necessarily read college essays looking to see my own political commitments reflected back to me. I don’t expect seventeen year-olds to be able to deconstruct privilege or fault them for using a vocabulary that the vast majority of able-bodied adults think is compassionate but is actually pretty infantilizing and problematic. I do score these essays based on the quality of the writing, which usually isn’t very good. It’s the oh-so predictable homogeneity of these essays–the prosaic quality that emerges any time someone is trying to expound on something that they lack the long-term experience or intimate involvement to be able to adequately describe–that earns them only middling scores. It’s the symptomatic nature of these essays that makes my forehead scrunch.
Dyslexia is a common “syndrome” that people everywhere continue to be forced to either overcome or let it overpower them (Wennas Brante 1). In all actuality, a person with dyslexia does not have to deal with flipped or misjudged letters. Instead the usual difficulty for dyslexics is that reading is much more difficult because words just do not ‘click’. In a way, a dyslexic person deals with learning the word all over again (Gorman 2). Is this Disability Even Conquerable? Can a person with Dyslexia still succeed in life with this disorder? Even If you are a person who is dyslexic, never fall into thinking that you can do nothing about it and will never be able to do anything spectacular with your life; because not only can you overcome this disability, you can succeed and do amazing things, because being dyslexic does not define you.
Dyslexia is not a disease, and because of that, with hard work anyone can break, or at least weaken, the mental chains this reading disorder has on them. Being a syndrome, this disorder can “manifest in various ways in different individuals” (Wennas Brante 1). This means that throughout all the research so far, the cases of dyslexia for people are all different; because it cannot be categorized, there is not a clear cut definition on what dyslexia is, and how it can be fixed. But the popular image of Dyslexia is a difficulty dealing with reading (Doering 100). No matter the severities, or the hardship of what this disorder (which can also affect your spelling and writing skills); a person can work through this, because even though they might have the disorder, it still does not have to define what they are (Gorman 8). “Homework and study”, no matter what article you read every informative guide on this topic has one point in common; the only way to get better, is to work (Wennas Brante 1). The most damaging myth about this disorder is that it can be outgrown! It cannot! Something has to be done about it as soon as it is noticed, and that something is fighting back. (Gorman 2). Being a slow reader, a person can often find their confidence crumble “as they see other students progressing” (3). Imagine this, you are trying to read a textbook, but because you recognizing words is not automatic, you have to “deal with each word you see as if you had never come across it before”, because of this, reading is slow and laborious (5). This is hard, and often time’s people with dyslexia are filled with low academic self-esteem, anxiety with performing tasks, prejudice, and time pressure (Wennas Brante 2). To some people, this burden may look huge and unconquerable. But people who have this disability still have conquered it; they have studied, they have read, they have pushed themselves to the limit and they have succeeded.
There are no quick fixes. “Dyslexic students often have to put many more hours into their course work than naturally skilled readers do. But the results are worth it.” People who have dyslexia learn to persevere (Gorman 6). People with this disorder are not brain damaged, in fact, “Dyslexics… seems to have a distinct advantage when it comes to thinking outside the box” (1). People with dyslexia can and do continue on to higher education, literally the only thing that is stopping a person with this or any disorder is themselves. (Wennas Brante 1) “The creative side of dyselxics’ brains are often very well developed and this, coupled with and unconventional approach to structure, has opened opportunites to dyslexics in these areas” (Doering 102). These areas are artists, scientists, and business exectives! Which “dyslexics are overrepresented in the top ranks of” (Gorman 2). Never believe that because you have dyslexia, you cannot do anything in life, instead remember this, Tom Cruise, Jay Leno, Agatha Christie, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Whoopi Goldberg (to name a few) all had (and some still have) dyslexia. And instead of letting the disorder stop them, “in some cases it may have fueled their creative fires” (Gorman7).
So what is stopping you? Who is telling you that because you have this disorder you can’t still do something amazing?
5 strategies to use character strengths to help others.
Posted March 21, 2017
We cannot escape disability. If you live long enough, you will experience some kind of disability. It might be a “hidden” disability such as depression, alcohol addiction, or an eating disorder. It might be something that slowly progresses in your body such as rheumatoid arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease.
Disability is simply part of the human experience. In the present day, almost ¼ of people have a disability. Despite the universality of the experience of disability, the mindset in helping people with disabilities is archaic yet improving. I outline the two main phases of how people with disabilities have been approached by professionals and what I view as an important third phase that we can strive toward.
Phase 1: Deficit-Based
For decades, the disability field has been the poster child for a deficit-based approach. In other words, target and understand what’s wrong. Certainly, this is a giant leap from the prior inhumane approaches in which the sole focus was to separate people with disabilities from people without noticeable problems. And, much has been gained from properly labeling what is wrong. This can inform healthcare decisions and treatment. However, it is only one part of the equation. There is much more to every person than their problems and deficits. To focus only on the disability/problem is to grab an elephant by the tail and proclaim that you know what an elephant is. Such approaches, often found in the psychological and medical professions, are necessary and important, but not sufficient. We can do better.
Phase 2: Strengths-Based
In the last decade or two, some people in the disability field have recognized this incomplete picture and asked some important questions: What is positive about the person? What are their skills and interests? What are their supports in their environment?
Each person has many kinds of strengths. To see the person’s talents (what they are good at), interests (what they like doing), skills (proficiencies in life they have developed), and resources (external supports) is a step in the right direction. These strengths-based approaches have been a step in the right direction for the disability field.
Critics note that there is a downside to this approach in that it sometimes is merely crossing a “t” or dotting an “i.” Ask a couple strengths-based questions and move on. There are many gaps in this amorphous and non-systematized approach. And, largely, it is missing the individuality of the person.
It’s time to take the next step. The next step involves a shift to something that has received very little attention in the disability field – strengths of character.
Phase 3: Character Strengths-Based
Who is the person with the disability at their core? What are their best qualities? Are they perseverant with an activity, never giving up? Are they very curious, questioning, looking around, and exploring new things? Are they especially kind, in that they are quick to do a favor, caring to people and other living beings, and always generous? Are they humorous , ready to tell a joke or to laugh at one, quick to be silly and to try to lighten the mood of others?
Identifying core character strengths of every person, regardless of age and ability-level, is the beginning of Phase 3. There is a substantive science of character strengths that can inform interventions and activities. Phase 3 represents the start of a shift to truly “see” people through a lens of ability, uniqueness, and goodness.
What follows are a few practical examples to help make your character strengths lens stronger.
1.) Identifying character strengths:
- Bill, take a look at this list of positive human qualities. Which ones do you think are strongest in you?
- Zoe, I see a lot of self-regulation, humility, and zest in you. From my perspective, these seem to be an important part of who you are. What about from your view?
2.) Offering feedback about character strengths
- Johnny, I saw how brave you were today to go out on the playground. You walked right up to that group of kids and starting playing with them. That took a lot of bravery!
- (A couple talking about their newborn) Isn’t our little Avery so curious? She is always looking around, exploring new toys. And whenever someone new walks in the room, she turns her head to look. She’s so curious and inquisitive!
3.) Exploring character strengths
- Susan, you seemed to be having so much fun playing soccer with your team. What character strengths were you using? How did you bring these strengths forth so strongly? Do you think you brought out the strengths of your teammates as well?
4.) Encouraging and reinforcing character strengths
- Tyler, you were quite creative in making this picture at school today. The way you used the colors was very unique. I hope you continue to use your creativity with your paintings and drawings. And, maybe you could use your creativity in working on your math problems too?
5.) Reframing problems with character strengths
- Sarah, I know you got in trouble at school today for not listening to the teacher and goofing around in the back of the classroom. I bet you were using your strength of humor and playfulness, weren’t you? Being funny and humorous is such a great quality that you have. I hope you never forget that. I hope you also know that you can use your humor differently when you are with your friends on the playground than in the classroom when the teacher is teaching. Maybe you can find a way to use humor in class in a way that your teachers would find acceptable?
This shift toward a character strengths mindset is for everyone. It is particularly crucial for those working with people with any kind of disability because such individuals are quick to be stigmatized and viewed in a one-dimensional way. The character strengths lens helps to prevent or minimize such stigma. It prioritizes the human being. It celebrates who the person is. It accentuates what is best in them. It empowers them to be resilient and even stronger than they know.
Phase 3 is the phase of the future.
This article was written to celebrate 3-21 day (March 21st), named to signify the 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome in people with Down syndrome. This day is also known as World Down Syndrome day.
“Disability need not be an obstacle to success,” Stephen Hawking wrote in the first ever world disability report back in 2011. As one of the most influential scientists of modern times, the wheelchair-bound physicist is certainly proof of that.
So why then are public attitudes so far from the reality? Almost 40% of respondents in a survey in Britain said that disabled people aren’t as productive as others. In the same survey, a quarter of disabled people said people expected less of them because of their disability.
It is these sorts of attitudes, rather than any mental or physical impairment, that create barriers for people with disabilities. As these leaders from the world of sports, culture and business show, it’s about time we changed those outdated beliefs.
“I went blind at 22. From an athlete, I became a young man with a white cane, unsure how to live my life,” Mark Pollock, a Forum Young Global Leader explains. But very soon, he found a deeper purpose in life, and realized his disability didn’t have to stop him from achieving great things.
“I began to race in deserts, mountains, across oceans, and on the 10th anniversary of going blind, I raced over 43 days to the South Pole.”
But in 2010, an accident left him paralyzed, and once again his world changed overnight: “My new life was shattered.”
He had a choice: to let his disability define him for the rest of his life, or to continue fighting. There was only ever one way it was going to go.
“If I just sat in a wheelchair, I’d be giving up completely,” he remembers. Today, he’s working with other leaders from science, technology and communications to fund and fast-track a cure for paralysis.
Born in the US in 1880, an illness left Helen Keller both blind and deaf before her second birthday. While the services available to people with disabilities were less extensive than they are today, Keller’s mother sought out experts and ensured her daughter received the best education.
In 1904, Keller graduated from Radcliffe College, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts. It was at university that her career as a writer and social activist started. Today, the Helen Keller archives contain almost 500 speeches and essays on topics as varied as birth control and Fascism in Europe.
She would go on to achieve international acclaim, becoming America’s first Goodwill Ambassador, and to this day she remains an inspiration to the deaf and blind.
Ralph Braun was still a young boy when he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, an incurable group of genetic diseases that leads to a loss of muscle mass.
A few years after his diagnosis, Ralph began to lose his ability to walk. While doctors warned him he would never be able to lead an independent life, the young boy was already proving people wrong, building the first battery-powered scooter. His passion would eventually lead him to establish wheelchair manufacturer BraunAbility.
He died in 2013, but as his company’s website notes, his legacy lives on. “Necessity is the mother of invention, and Ralph’s physical limitations only served to fuel his determination to live independently and prove to society that people with physical disabilities can participate fully and actively in life.”
Mexico’s most famous artist was born with spina bifida, a condition that can cause defects in the spinal cord. At six, she contracted polio, which left one leg much thinner than the other.
In spite of these challenges, she was an active child, but at 18 a bus accident left her with serious injuries. It was while recovering from the accident that Frida discovered her love of painting. She would go on to be one of the most famous Surrealists in the world.
Ever since I was old enough to play sports I always participated, despite having relatively weak gross motor skills and a low level of endurance. Those around me couldn’t quite understand why I kept participating. However with wonderful coaches and strong family support, I was able to have a very positive experience. I hope by reading this, you see that it doesn’t matter if you are last in a race or sit on the bench for team sports. What matters most is that you are part of a team, forming strong bonds with teammates and coaches and learning how to persevere through the tough times.
As a young kid I played soccer, basketball and softball, but by middle school it was clear that individual sports like swimming and running were a better fit for me. While they were still hard, I found them easier for me than team sports. My resource room teacher questioned my parents decision to have me play sports. She felt my participation was going to impact me negatively, knowing that I was probably going to be one of the slowest swimmers or runners on the team. But my parents assured her that I would be fine, and that I would benefit a great deal by being around my sister and her friends who were going to be on two of the teams. My experience, in fact, was very positive as it led me to be connected, something both my parents and I knew I needed as a middle school student.
Once high school started, the challenges mounted and I started to lose some support. I initially thought my sports days were over as our swim team became too competitive, and in track I could only run sprint races as I lacked the endurance for longer races. My parents however, had other ideas. They said to me, “Eileen we want you to do cross-country and we will find someone to train you, as it would allow you to be happier in track as you could do the distance events too. ” I was incredibly scared and started to believe that others may be right; that my career in sports was over because my neurological impairments have too much of a negative effect. Thankfully my coach believed hard work beats talent, along with being a strong believer in inclusion and being a great man to be around. So after a week of practice, the negative feelings quickly went away. As a result, I was able to show those in the field who Eileen Herzog really was. Most importantly, my coach became my strongest advocate and today is still one of my favorite people as he has a fantastic personality. His wonderful care and support gave me a better future. It’s disappointing to me when those with disabilities decide to end their time in sports; I know there are coaches like mine who enjoy coaching not just the best athletes, but also those who work hard and who are good teammates. I want those of you who are doubting yourselves to remember this.
As time went on I continued to be the weakest runner in terms of talent. Thankfully my coach was so amazing to me so I could see my purpose on my team — I was the supporter and the hard worker. This transferred to my time on the indoor and outdoor track team. In fact, during my career I received multiple school and sectional sportsmanship awards. Through my time in cross-country and track, my peers were able to learn more about my disability and they became even more supportive of me as they knew I was overcoming something I was born with. I can’t tell you how important these experiences were to me as I made my way through high school.
So if you are thinking about giving up, or not even giving it a try, I truly believe you are making a mistake. Yes, those around may doubt you, but you need to show others they are wrong. Honestly there will be many difficult moments, but I strongly urge you to never give in as you will miss out on being part of something special. You will be amazed by how many people will reach out to you and believe in you more. Like any obstacle, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So never give up and help increase the incredibly low statistics of individuals with disabilities being in varsity sports. I know it will be something you will be so proud of!
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Sample Disclosure Statements for Various Stages of Employment (People with Disabilities)
In a Cover Letter
Disclosing your disability in a resume, cover letter, or job application is generally discouraged unless it is relevant to the position.
- “My experiences managing my own disability will enable me to provide exceptional customer service to buyers of your company’s assistive technology products.”
- “As a recipient of your facility’s excellent vocational services, it would be my privilege to use my clerical skills as part of your office administration team.“
After Being Invited to Interview
There are two primary reasons why you might choose to disclose your disability prior to a scheduled interview:
If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the interview process:
During the Interview
The ADA prohibits employers from asking questions that are directly related to your disability. Examples of legal and illegal inquiries will be provided in a future article.
- “From the question, it seems you want to know that you can depend on me to be at work when scheduled. Well, I had a very good attendance record at my last job. I only missed two or three days per year, mostly due to minor colds.”
- “I’ve held similar positions for many years and can readily perform the essential job functions.”
- “I re-assessed my skills and career interests.”
- “I took some time off to spend with family.”
- “I was caring for a sick family member.”
- “I had some health issues, but am now fully recovered and ready to get back to work.”
- “I participated in an 18-month vocational training program to prepare myself for the career change that I found myself having to make after my accident.“
- “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that the application process for your restaurant hostess position includes a pre-employment test. I have rheumatoid arthritis that makes it difficult for me to fill in those small circles to mark my answers. Would it be possible for me to say my answers aloud, then you could fill the circles in for me?“
- “My physical disability has taught me to persevere when faced with challenges. If I’m having difficulty with something, I keep at it until I succeed. I don’t let myself get discouraged, and I never give up.”
- “I need to read printed materials slowly and carefully because of my learning disability. This actually turned out to be an advantage at my last job, not just for me but the entire department, because I caught several serious errors that were overlooked by other people.“
- “You’re probably wondering how I am able to work on a computer since I have limited use of my hands. Well, I simply speak into a microphone, and a terrific software program does the typing for me! So, while I may not perform my job in quite the same way as my co-workers, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with my high-quality results.”
- “As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am deaf. I’m an excellent lip-reader. In face-to-face interactions, I only need people to wave or tap me on the shoulder to get my attention, and to face me directly when speaking. Whenever possible, I’ll use email to communicate with people, but I’ll need TTY/TDD service and equipment for telephone interactions.”
- “As you can see, I have some difficulties with social situations. This has no bearing, however, on my ability to troubleshoot computer problems. What I’m saying is, even though I may not interact in a typical way, you’ll find that I do my job and I do it well.”
- “If you want to know how I’ll do the job, I’ll gladly demonstrate.“
- “Now that you have a better understanding of multiple sclerosis, I’d like to continue our discussion of the job and my qualifications.“
After Receiving a Conditional Offer of Employment
If you have a non-apparent disability and need an accommodation, most people would recommend waiting until a conditional job offer has been made before disclosing.
- “Thank you so much for the job offer. I am very excited to join your team. I would like to mention one thing, though. I have a medical condition that causes some fatigue. My doctor advises me to take more frequent breaks throughout the day. But don’t worry, the quality of my work will remain high, and I will make up missed time at the end of each day. I hope this isn’t a problem for you.”
- “I am so happy to hear from you. I look forward to working together. But there is one thing I’d like to discuss with you before I start. You may not have even noticed this during the interview because I’ve adjusted so well, but I have limited vision. As a result, I’ll need screen magnification software to do my computer work most effectively. It’s relatively inexpensive, and I can help you place the order online, if you’d like.“
After Being On-the-Job for a Period of Time
You can choose to disclose at any point during your employment, either because the need for an accommodation has arisen or because you simply feel comfortable doing so.